A World War II officer’s club at a long-shuttered military base is morphing into a new center of hope and healing for veterans in an innovative Riverside housing project expected to open early next year.
The Camp Anza Officers Club, with its huge dance floor, tiki room and paintings of Polynesian beauties, was the site of send-off parties for thousands of officers leaving for combat in the Pacific.
The massive building, which sat at the heart of a vital U.S. Army troop staging area, is undergoing a renovation to make it the centerpiece of the Home Front at Camp Anza.
The $14.1 million project by San Diego-based Wakeland Housing and Development Corp., Mercy House of Santa Ana and Riverside’s housing authority will offer affordable apartments for 29 disabled vets and their families and on-site services to keep them together.
On a tour of the area Wednesday, Riverside City Councilman Jim Perry said the effort to help returning war vets also will revitalize one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods by breathing new life into an important piece of its past.
The historic clubhouse will function as the complex’s community center, offering services tailored to vets and a place for relaxation and meetings. Vets will work with a full-time case manager provided by Mercy House.
Vets will get on-site physical therapy, job coaching and placement, and classes on civilian life skills and financial literacy. They will be connected with Veterans Affairs benefits and vocational training or higher education, said Mercy House Executive Director Larry Haynes.
For vets and their families, there will be on- and off-site behavioral and mental health support, conflict resolution, financial assistance, tutoring and school supplies for kids.
Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
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